Serum markers may distinguish biliary atresia from other forms of neonatal cholestasis

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2010 Apr;50(4):411-6. doi: 10.1097/MPG.0b013e3181cb42ee.


Background: Biliary atresia (BA) is the most serious liver disease in infants. Diagnosis currently depends on surgical exploration of the biliary tree. Noninvasive tests that distinguish BA from other types of neonatal liver disease are not available.

Patients and methods: To identify potential serum biomarkers that classify children with neonatal cholestasis, we performed 2-dimensional difference gel electrophoresis, statistical analysis, and tandem mass spectrometry using serum samples from 19 infants with BA and 19 infants with non-BA neonatal cholestasis.

Results: Eleven potential serum biomarkers were found that could in combination classify children with neonatal cholestasis.

Conclusions: Although no single biomarker or imaging test adequately distinguishes BA from other types of neonatal cholestasis, combinations of biomarkers, imaging tests, and noninvasive clinical criteria should be further explored as potential tests for rapid and accurate diagnosis of BA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Biliary Atresia / blood
  • Biliary Atresia / diagnosis*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Blood Proteins / analysis*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cholestasis / blood
  • Cholestasis / diagnosis*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Electrophoresis, Gel, Two-Dimensional
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Newborn, Diseases / blood
  • Infant, Newborn, Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Male
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry


  • Biomarkers
  • Blood Proteins